All activities relating to fishing or harvesting of sea cucumber (beche-de-mer) will cease as of midnight of January 31, 2018, says the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in a statement issued yesterday.
It says the five months ‘Open Harvest Period’ will end at midnight on Wednesday and no further extension will be given, therefore, those involved in the beche-de mer trade are reminded to take heed.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources opened the beche-de-mer fishery on September 1, 2017 following approval from the cabinet.
The fishery was supposed to close at the end of November 2017, however, an extension was required because of delays in issuing of export licence so MFMR decided to extend the open harvest period to January 2018 to make up for the lost time.
The Director of Fisheries will enforce an order under section 22(2) of the Fisheries Management Act 2015 on February 1, 2018 prohibiting fishing or possession of sea cucumber or beche-de-mer.
There will be a grace period for licensed exporters to export products that they have already purchased from fishers.
MFMR says data collected by the Ministry of Fisheries shows that there have been fewer high grade beche-de-mer species purchased by exporters in the current open period compared to previous open periods.
“The majority of beche-de-mer harvested has been of low value. This is a strong indication that the high grade beche-de-mer species have been overexploited and their recovery was slow in spite of two years of closure before the lifting of the ban.
“The decline is of great concern to the Ministry of Fisheries. However, MFMR is committed to improve the management of beche-de-mer fishery to ensure its sustainability into the future.”